The NCD risk factors
An average Bhutanese consumes 9 gm of salt against the World Health Organization recommendations of less than 5 gm daily. This puts the average Bhutanese on the high risk against the non communicable diseases. The use of tobacco, consumption of alcohol, diet with high salt intake and lack of physical activity are the causes of non communicable diseases.
This was revealed with the launching of the fact sheet survey on non communicable disease risk factors for Bhutan last Friday. The survey was carried out from April – June 2014. Bhutan carried out Step 1, Step2 and Step 3. Social demographic and behavioral information was collect in Step 1, Physical measurements such as height; weight and blood pressure were collected in Step 2. Bio chemical measurements were collected to assess salt intake, blood glucose and cholesterol levels in Step 3.
The survey was a population based survey of adults aged 18-69. A multi – stage stratified cluster sampling design was used to produce representative data for the age range in Bhutan. A total of 2,822 adults participated in the survey. The overall response was 99%.
The report reveals that 7.4 % of the people surveyed currently smoke tobacco with 10.8 % male and 3.1% female. About 4.3% of the people surveyed use tobacco daily with 6.0% in male and 2.1% in females. The people using smokeless tobacco is 19.7% with 26.5% males and 11.0% in females. The average age for smoking starters is 19 for the males and 84.10% of the surveyed population smoked manufactured cigarettes from the group the daily smokers.
More that 42% of the population who has been surveyed currently drink alcohol in the past 30 days with 50.0% male and 32.8% females. About 22.4% are engaged in heavy episode drinking for 6 or more drinks on any occasion in the past 30 days. The male percentage is 29.0% and 14. % with the females.
With regard to the consumption of fruit and vegetables more than 67% of the people surveyed don’t consume sufficient fruits and vegetables. About 7.8% of the people surveyed always or often add salt to their food before eating or as and when eating and 11.1% always or often eat processed foods with high salt intake.
Nearly 49% of the surveyed population are not engaged in any vigorous activity and 6.4 % doesn’t have sufficient physical activities with 3.9% in male and 9.6% in females. 27% of men and 40% of women are overweight and obese. About 36% have raised blood pressure and one of three hypertensives is not treated for high blood pressure.
The non communicable diseases are preventable. People must change their eating habits, reduce the consumption of alcohol and tobacco and do some physical activity daily. This will not only make the population healthier but save funds for other beneficial projects. As the Assistant Director General Dr. Oleg Chestbnov of the WHO HQ during the launched remarked a healthy population is a happy population.
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